Eating out has become a popular trend in the United States over the years. According to the National Restaurant Association, Americans spend around $899 billion at restaurants and foodservice establishments each year.
This shows how much Americans love to dine out. In this blog post, we will discuss how often Americans eat out, factors that influence their decision to eat out, and the impact of eating out on their health and finances.
How often do Americans eat out?
Eating out has become a part of American culture, and it is not uncommon to see people dining out several times a week. According to a survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association, Americans eat out an average of 4.5 times per week. This means that on average, Americans eat out at least once a day. The frequency of eating out also varies based on age, income, and location.
Younger people tend to eat out more frequently than older adults. A survey conducted by the marketing research firm Technomic found that 54% of millennials eat out at least three times a week, compared to 43% of Gen Xers and 36% of baby boomers. This shows that younger people tend to prioritize dining out over cooking at home.
Income also plays a significant role in how often Americans eat out. According to a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, households with higher incomes tend to eat out more frequently than those with lower incomes. For example, households earning $100,000 or more per year spend an average of $3,459 on food away from home annually, while households earning less than $70,000 spend an average of $2,505.
Location also affects how often Americans eat out. People who live in urban areas tend to eat out more frequently than those who live in rural areas. This is because there are more dining options in urban areas, and people tend to have busier schedules, leaving them with less time to cook at home.
Factors that influence Americans to eat out
There are several factors that influence Americans to eat out. The most common factors include convenience, socialization, and variety.
Convenience: One of the most significant factors that influence Americans to eat out is convenience. With busy schedules and hectic lifestyles, many people find it easier to eat out than to cook at home. Eating out saves time and effort, and it is a convenient way to get a meal quickly.
Socialization: Another factor that influences Americans to eat out is socialization. Eating out provides an opportunity for people to socialize with friends and family members. It is also a way to celebrate special occasions, such as birthdays and anniversaries.
Variety: Americans also eat out because of the variety of foods available at restaurants. Eating out provides an opportunity to try new and different cuisines that they may not be able to make at home. This is especially true for people who live in areas with limited dining options.
Impact of eating out on health and finances
While eating out is convenient and enjoyable, it can have a significant impact on both health and finances.
Health: Eating out frequently can lead to overconsumption of calories, unhealthy food choices, and weight gain. A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that eating out at fast-food restaurants is associated with higher calorie, fat, and sodium intake, and lower intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Additionally, the portion sizes served at restaurants are often larger than what people would serve themselves at home, leading to overeating and weight gain.
Finances: Eating out can also have a significant impact on finances. According to a study by TD Ameritrade, Americans spend an average of $232 per month eating out. This can add up to over $2,700 per year, which can have a significant impact on a person’s finances. Eating out can be more expensive than cooking at home, especially if a person is eating at higher-end restaurants or ordering delivery frequently. People who eat out frequently may also be more likely to overspend on drinks or desserts, which can add up quickly.
Tips for eating out in a healthy and budget-friendly way
Despite the potential downsides of eating out frequently, it is possible to enjoy dining out while still maintaining a healthy diet and sticking to a budget. Here are some tips:
- Look for healthy options: Many restaurants now offer healthier options on their menus. Look for dishes that are grilled, baked, or steamed, and avoid foods that are fried or covered in heavy sauces. Choose lean protein sources such as chicken or fish and opt for sides that are steamed vegetables or a salad.
- Control portion sizes: Restaurant portion sizes are often much larger than what a person would eat at home. Consider sharing an entree with a friend or family member or ask the server to pack half the meal to take home.
- Watch for hidden calories: Be aware of hidden calories in drinks, dressings, and sauces. Choose water or unsweetened tea instead of sugary drinks, and ask for dressings or sauces on the side.
- Plan ahead: Look at the menu online before going to a restaurant and decide what to order ahead of time. This can help avoid impulse choices and make healthier choices.
- Use coupons or deals: Many restaurants offer coupons or deals that can help save money. Look for coupons in local newspapers or online, or sign up for restaurant email lists to receive special offers.
Eating out has become a popular trend in the United States, with Americans dining out an average of 4.5 times per week. Convenience, socialization, and variety are the main factors that influence Americans to eat out. While eating out can be enjoyable, it can have a significant impact on both health and finances. People who eat out frequently may consume more calories and overspend on food and drinks. However, by following some tips for eating out in a healthy and budget-friendly way, people can still enjoy dining out while maintaining a healthy diet and sticking to a budget.